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Bed Wetting

There are some things that are great to talk about with friends:

·         Your latest golf score

·         Movies you’ve seen

·         What you did last weekend

 But some things are hard to talk about with friends:

·         Your bedwetting problem

A fancy name for bedwetting, or sleep wetting, is nocturnal (nighttime) enuresis (“en-yoo-ree-sus”). There has been a lot of research into bedwetting in children, but not as much into the problem of enuresis in adults. Whether it is a child or an adult with the problem, however, it is known that it is an event that can’t be controlled by the person.

Some people may have had a bedwetting problem since childhood (Persistent Primary Nocturnal Enuresis), while others don’t develop the problem until adulthood (Adult Onset Secondary Enuresis).


The causes of bed wetting vary. At night, the body produces less of a hormone called ADH, which then causes the kidneys to produce less urine. That is why most people are able to sleep through the night without having to urinate. Other people don’t produce this extra ADH or their body does not respond to the hormone. In both cases, this can cause nighttime bedwetting.  Also, it has been shown that bedwetting can be hereditary.

Some people may have what is referred to as a “small” bladder, which means their bladder does not hold as much urine as most other adults. Substances that irritate the bladder, such as caffeine and alcohol, can also cause bed wetting. Sleep apnea or other sleep disorders can also contribute to bed wetting.

Some adults may also have a problem with daytime wetting. In those cases, physical causes should be investigated and ruled out first.


A doctor will want to know a lot of information about you in order to make a proper diagnosis of your bedwetting problem. Before your appointment, make a record for at least a few days of the following:

·         The number of times that you urinate and when

·         Any bedwetting incidents

·         The amount of urine you produce each time you go to the bathroom

·         If the urine stream is weak or strong

·         Any pain when urinating

·         Any other symptoms, such as night sweats


Many doctors think that the best treatment for bed wetting is a program that retrains your brain to do one of two things:

·         Wake you up so you can go to the bathroom

·         Stay asleep and hold it until morning

Treatment programs can include doing bladder exercises such as waiting a little longer to urinate during the day, or reading about and imagining staying dry. Another treatment involves using a tiny alarm connected to a pad placed in your underwear at night. If you start to urinate, the pad senses the moisture and sets off the alarm. Different alarms buzz, vibrate, or do both, but they're all easy to use and can help wake even the deepest sleeper.

Another option is medicine, such as a nose spray or tablet that you take before going to bed. While these may work temporarily, they aren’t a cure. It’s been found that medicines to treat bed wetting work best when combined with an alarm or other training programs.


If you have a bedwetting problem, there are some things you can do to stay dry:

·         Try not to drink anything after dinner


·         Go to the bathroom before going to bed


·         Limit caffeine and alcohol


·         Take an appropriate medication prescribed by your physician


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Dr. Aguirre
Dr. Aguirre is the Director of Aguirre Specialty Care, The Center for Female Pelvic Medicine. Dr. Aguirre is also a member of the Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation Institute of America.
The Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation Institute of America is founded and directed by Dr. David L. Matlock.

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